Tuesday, September 20, 2005
crawling from underneath literalism
I've recently been reading Renee Altson's short but intense book stumbling toward faith: my longing to heal from the evil that God allowed, and while her experiences of growing up in an abusive church and with an abusive father are far beyond what I myself can comprehend, I did find myself relating to her words about her journey past a "literalistic" faith. They very much describe my own journey:

"in my current pursuit of god, i find myself crawling from underneath literalism. at least i am trying. for even as i reach toward something that just might be poetic or symbolic, i feel the fires of hell breathing on my backside; i feel something in me cry 'heretic, heretic, burn her!' i feel one misplaced mark of punctuation dooming me to an eternity in torment."
posted by Mike Clawson at 12:04 PM | Permalink |


At 9/20/2005 05:01:00 PM, Blogger gerbmom

Yep. Part of what I have been dealing with over the last several weeks. Interesting to hear someone else describe it so vividly!


At 9/24/2005 11:52:00 PM, Anonymous kyra

When I first started to think about the Bible in a postmodern way it frightened me. I though that maybe it would be safer to take a more literal approach but then I realized that "literal" didn't exist. It's sort of like realizing that you're concrete home doesn't exist but then you find a nice garden underneath. much more interesting.

by the by, we're reading parts of the Bible in my philosophy and theology class. Reading and studying scripture with a group of non Christians is very interesting. They have different preconceptions like maybe God's different names are actually different gods or when Jesus wrote in the dirt he was writing out his sins or that because Jesus didn't throw a stone it meant that he had sinned. I like how much they explore the text as opposed to taking so many things for granted.

On that note I have two questions for you. Do you know much about what it might have been the Jesus wrote in the dirt and also why Christians can handle money/tithe whereas it is a sin for Jews?

sorry it isn't in e-mail form, I'm lazy.


At 9/25/2005 06:35:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Sorry Kyra, I'm not sure I can help on either of your questions. The first I have no idea about. There's lots of speculation about what Jesus was writing, some say he was writing out the sins of the people wanting to stone the woman, others think it's an allusion to Genesis 1 and God creating humanity out of the "dust of the ground", so in a sense Jesus was offering the woman a chance to become a new creation. Others simply say that the detail was included because that's what Jesus was actually doing (i.e. John was just faithfully reporting the scene) but it had no further significance to the story. (I don't like that last one. I think the gospel writers tend to use their words sparingly and don't include things that don't have some sort of significance. Anyhow, I'll poke around and see if I can find any other possibilities. My guess is that it's somehow an Old Testament allusion, though I'm not sure what exactly it alludes to.

As for the other question, I don't think I understand the question. I'm not sure what you're referring to. Can you give me a particular chapter/verse?


At 9/26/2005 05:56:00 PM, Blogger anne

My literalist struggle didn't come from being raised to view Christianity that way, but from encountering Christians who did. I could relate to a quote from Gandhi's when he said, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." That's what confused me. That's what mostly kept me out of church.


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